The flags are jauntily flying on the cars, and the bars and patios are getting ready! I love living in Toronto when the World Cup is on - no matter who wins or loses, there's always a street party made up of fans of all teams. And as this great sporting event gets set to captivate the world, there's no better time to engage in some world literature for your summer reading. I spent last night with the latest issue of The London Review of Books (my slow reading magazine of choice - I can spend hours with certain issues, reading it cover to cover including the publishing ads and of course the witty and literary personals at the back), and the publication is sponsoring a World Literature Weekend on June 18-19th. I wish I could be there to attend some of the great events, but their website has also posted a number of articles, profiles and reviews about the authors attending - a great resource to get some good international reading suggestions. You can access it here.
Meanwhile, I'm halfway through a terrific new Spanish novel, Learning to Lose by David Trueba, translated by Mara Faye Lethem. It's set in modern day Madrid and follows four intersecting main characters as each deals with losing different aspects of their lives, both the tangible - a job, a family member, a soccer game, virginity - and the deeper, personal loss of fragments of self-identity. A grandfather becomes addicted to a young prostitute while his wife recovers from a broken hip, despite his shame and the impact on his dwindling savings that the visits entail. His son Lorenzo is losing his grip on everyday life, filled with guilt and fear after murdering his former business partner. His daughter Sylvia, a young teenager who has "the desire to desire" is searching for the perfect man to fall in love with. And it just might be Ariel, the Argentinian soccer player who has joined one of Madrid's professional teams but is having trouble adapting to the bigger league and dealing with the very vocal Spanish fans. The writing and pacing is completely drawing me in and it's a very sexy read - perfect for the summer and to read alongside the World Cup, as you get an insider's peek into the world of elite soccer teams.
I have a couple of galleys of this novel to send to any Canadian reader of this blog. Just send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with your address, and tell me which team you are rooting for in the World Cup. I'll put all entries in a hat and draw out a winner. The contest is open until noon on Friday, June 18th.